Concert review: The Growlers at Boulder Theater

The Growlers kicked off their sold-out show Sunday night surprisingly — without an opening act. The crowd packed Boulder Theater, especially hipster college kids that like to wear chokers and crop tops. People were excited about the lack of an opener, going into a frenzy once lead singer, Brooks Neilsen, appeared on stage in his signature trench coat.

As expected, Neilsen mirrored his raspy voice and synth rock sound by dancing around the stage with quirky struts and jigs. He also liked to keep the energy up between songs by throwing in comedic quips for the crowd. The band’s psychedelic surf rock also paired well with the mood-shifting lights and set display.

Their music can’t help but put you in a “1950s swing dance” state of mind, even when you’re continuously making contact with three other strangers around you. There was also an alarming amount of people that tried to shimmy their way closer to the stage, but got blocked out by the wall of hardcore fans who waited outside to earn those spots. 

Oddly, for a feel-good indie rock concert, the front of the crowd had a good amount of moshing. Their music genuinely made you want to sway around with your friends as you sung along to their love-sap lyrics. Instead, I noticed a lot of energetic fans pushing people while they head-banged their way to a different side of the stage.

The set list incorporated a good amount of songs from their most recent album City Club, on top of the crowd-favorite hits like “One Million Lovers,” “Big Toe” and “Chinese Fountain.” It was obvious which tracks have gained popularity throughout the years when the audience broke out into song like a church choir. It was also funny to see certain people intentionally refrain from singing along to their cult classic, “Gay Thoughts.”

Since City Club is fairly recent, people still weren’t familiar with their newer tracks like “Dope on a Rope,” “Night Ride” and encore closer “Blood of a Mutt.” Granted, Brooks and the rest of the gang still do a number on these songs with great enthusiasm (probably because they’re tired of performing their old stuff).

This band is a prime example of a concert you can dance and groove to, even if you don’t know the specific songs or lyrics. Neilsen’s gravelly voice, combined with the robust surf guitars, made for a perfect night of beer-sipping and head-bobbing to feel-good music.

Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Kristin Endahl at

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